The best view comes after the hardest climb.

2016 has been a whirlwind – I feel like I’ve aged 10 years this year because this year has felt like it’s taken 10 years to be over! 2016 has just been beautiful and enchanting but also so awful and chaotic. There have been days where I’ve felt like I was a glass doll that was on the verge of breaking. There were days where I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders and couldn’t find the space to breathe. More often than not, there were times where I felt bulletproof because I was reminded that my problems and the things that I’ve gone through this year don’t measure up to how great God is, because in the end, my problems don’t matter – he does. Those days remind me to be humbled that this life is mine.

The good…

In May, I flew out to Woodstock, GA  to see my cousin (who’s been more like a big brother to me throughout my life) get married to his gorgeous bride. I got to see my brand new cousin-in-law walk across the stage and finally put the “RN” behind her new last name – something that she’s worked so incredibly hard for.  Throughout my time in Georgia, I’ve gotten to see aunts and uncles and cousins that I haven’t seen in several years and was so thrilled to not only meet new family members, but to reconnect with old ones. I loved getting to love on these two and share in their excitement with them as they start their new lives together.

In June, I reapplied to UT, changed my major, found a place to live, packed up all of my belongings and moved to a brand new city within three weeks. I’ve met new friends and reconnected with old ones. I’ve gone from being dependent to being even more independent than I ever could’ve imagined. I’ve gone from a world that I was comfortable and secure in to a world that absolutely terrified me. I’ve loved every single second of it and haven’t looked back.

In October, I got over my fear of College Station {hook ’em forever} and drove four hours to see my younger cousin get married to the woman of his dreams. I have never seen two people more in love and and more committed to walking towards Jesus than these two. Their marriage is a marriage that we should all strive for. And the coolest thing???  They get to chase Jesus for the rest of their lives together, y’all – how wonderful is that?!

In November, after waiting 6 long years, I was finally able to get my class ring. All of the blood, sweat, tears and anxiety/panic attacks that I’ve had through the past 6 years completely washed away. I have never felt such relief and excitement as I did that day. I did it. And in a year, I will finally be able to say that I am a  Texas Ex. And I. Can’t. Wait.

Two weeks ago, I was very fortunate to see my hero retire his jersey. I’ve watched Tim Duncan play for the Spurs for 19 years – I was 4 years old when he started playing for the Spurs. I’ve lived through 5 championships. I’ve lived through countless heartbreaks and hard games. I’ve lived through near heart attacks and exciting games. I’ve lived through rivalries between us and the Lakers, Suns, Hornets, Mavericks, Heat, and Cavaliers. I’ve lived through Duncan’s 3 point shot against the Suns in 2008 to force double OT. I’ve lived through Joey Crawford ejecting Duncan for laughing. I’ve lived through the agony and the ghost town that San Antonio was when Duncan nearly left for Orlando in 2000. I’ve lived through thousands of corny HEB commercials. And the greatest thing of all, I got to treasure these 19 years because I made those memories with my dad by my side for the rest of my life. I cried like a baby that day and most girls have female role models, but his humility, grace and love for the game made him mine.

And on with the bad..

I think this year was meant to be a year full of lessons for me and I think the really, really hard lessons that I’ve had to learn this year, whilst painful in that exact moment, were lessons that were crucial to learn.

My dream to be a nurse died. I struggled for months because I felt that my dream to be a nurse was taken away from me. I felt like I lost a part of myself because I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with my life because I’ve had that dream for so long – it was what I was supposed to do. I felt that everything that I’ve worked for suddenly didn’t matter. I felt like I was letting not only myself down, but I was letting absolutely every single person around me down . I cried for days and slept for most of that week because I didn’t want to face reality.  I felt like a failure for being in college for 6 years and living life at a colossally different pace, while most of my friends have already graduated and are on to exciting life milestones like getting engaged, married and having babies.

And then, as it always does, bad things have a way of reformulating itself to become better than you’ve ever could’ve imagined. I reapplied for UT and changed my major to elementary education and was re-admitted. I started my education classes this past semester and was not expecting much. Oh, how I was wrong! I fell in love with my classes and met some wonderful people along the way. Teaching has it’s challenges and you’re never going to be perfect at anything you do. But man, oh, man, how rewarding is it to see the lightbulbs go off in a child’s mind?

I’ve had so many wonderful teaching influences throughout my life and I hope to be half the teacher to my students as they were to me (looking at you, Mr. Brown!) The biggest teacher that I’ve had this semester was Jesus showing me that the plan that you have for yourself isn’t necessarily the plan He has for you. I’ve been so consumed by what I wanted that I completely and utterly failed to listen to what He wanted. If I had just opened my ears and my heart and talked to God, things probably would’ve worked out completely differently. It is no secret that Jesus and I had so many fights this year, but my relationship with Him grows more and more each day. And I wouldn’t trade a single second of it for anything.

And when the clock strikes 12:00, my 25th year begins (and somehow, the idea of being a quarter of a century old is not quite as terrifying as this year has been). And tomorrow, so will 2017. And I hope that this year is full of lessons and love and laughter and chasing Jesus.

Happy New Year.